Are '50s Les Pauls really much more resonant than later ones?

Discussion in 'Vintage Les Pauls' started by the passenger, May 24, 2017.

  1. the passenger

    the passenger Senior Member

    Messages:
    344
    Likes Received:
    437
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Just one example from the countless similar descriptions about a '50s Les Paul:

    "...has more natural resonance than any humbucker-equipped Les Paul I’ve played (...) Beneath the chimey, crisp treble, there’s a hollow woodiness that could fool you into thinking it’s a chambered body – if it weren’t for the astonishing solidbody sustain."

    Is it true that the '50s Lesters are much more resonant than the current examples in general? Are they really as loud acoustically as the chambered USA Standards or Cloud 9 Historics? Or is it all just a myth?

    We all know about the magic of the PAF humbuckers and the famous Burst notes have been burnt into our brains. The proof is on our favourite records and there are also hundreds of video demonstrations on Youtube. On the other hand, there is not much tangible proof about the highly-praised resonant qualities of these guitars, except the well-known Guitar World comparison footage of the Dimarzio Burst and an R9. That's the only video I know of in this regard, but one comparison proves not much.

    If anyone had the chance to listen to the unplugged tone of a '50s Les Paul, please chime in with your personal impressions. There are many members on this forum who lives in areas where there are no vintage guitar stores, so it would be really interesting to hear the personal accounts of those who owned or played original '50s examples and could verify if there's any truth to the popular myth.

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 24, 2017
    Mockbel and Mr. Pickles like this.
  2. Petergrifindor

    Petergrifindor Senior Member

    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    117
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2015
    It depends on the particular guitar you are comparing.

    There are good and bad ´50s Les Paul, the same that happens today.

    But no, there is nothing magical in the old ones. Any of the really good ones from the Custom Shop today is any bit as great as the best from the ´50s.
     
    gball, Mr. Pickles, howardlo and 6 others like this.
  3. LPPILOT

    LPPILOT Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,011
    Likes Received:
    485
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    most of the magic is in who is playing .
     
    Sp8ctre, Jrh1969, FlamingTop and 19 others like this.
  4. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

    Messages:
    68,747
    Likes Received:
    161,424
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    The poor craftsman blames his tools ... and perhaps praises them? Pagey on a 59 no doubt sounds one hell of a lot better than I would.
     
  5. Tim Plains

    Tim Plains Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,183
    Likes Received:
    7,050
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    That's like saying all blondes are hotter than all brunettes.
     
  6. sws1

    sws1 V.I.P. Member

    Messages:
    647
    Likes Received:
    582
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Agree with your first point.

    Vehemently disagree with your second point. Folks intimately familiar with both would agree. Does it constitute "magic" levels of difference? Not my term, so I can't answer.

    To the OP...they're all different. I have one that's more mellow, one that is slightly ringy-er. It is "louder"? The frequencies but off are different so who's to say it's truly louder vs accentuating certain frequencies. If I had to make a broad generalization (which I hate to do, but you seem to be looking for one) is that my old guitars sound less "congested" both unplugged and plugged in.
     
  7. d1m1

    d1m1 Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,269
    Likes Received:
    2,327
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2012
    it depends on the guitar. every guitar sounds different and in the end of the day it is a matter of taste.

    but in avarage i would say that 50s oldgrown wood is different than what you can get todays. at least according to my expirience. most 50´s lp i had in my hands had even unplugged a surprisingly long sustain. a bloom. a hong. a snap. they were ringing like bells literally. you can find historics with similar qualities as well but it is harder i would say.

    of course there is a dozen factors affect tone. but if the same player would play 10 new and 10 50s lp´s with the same hardware, same paf´s same amp, speaker, cabels and settings than i´m pretty sure more 50s would sound "better" or if you want the 50´s would sound in avarage better.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2017
  8. Ph03n1x

    Ph03n1x Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,453
    Likes Received:
    836
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    I think some of the wood issues could be overcome by design tweaks. I've got an Ornetts made in Japan LP. It has some sort of cheap asian mahogany and it is super lightweight with no swiss cheese holes. It also has a unique tenon and trus rod design. The tenon is longer and thicker than even the hisotric LPs. It also has a thin nitro finish. It is super resonant (moreso than my other LPs). I've wondered sometimes if roasting/baking mahogany might improve its tone? Apparently it makes it more brittle than the same process with maple but some people have done it. There must be some way of replicating the aging process of wood.

    It is weird that Gibson hasn't really made any big improvements on the mainstream LP design itself. They could still release limited batches of standard LPs with design tweaks like the "axess" contoured heel and nitro finish it to give a mix of things that were good from the past and new. Instead they put a wide metal nut and robot tuners on all their models? Why take such a stupid risk by making sweeping changes on all models? Weird. I think technology is getting to point where people are going to be able to make LPs themselves by getting access to CNC shops. It might be the boutique builders and DIY people that come up with future improvements on the design.
     
  9. d1m1

    d1m1 Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,269
    Likes Received:
    2,327
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2012
    The question was if 50ies lp's are more resonant
     
    Blue Blood likes this.
  10. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,316
    Likes Received:
    3,098
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    As someone who will never own a really great 50's Les Paul (my '56 junior is plenty good for me though) but who has played a few really great ones I'll say that the idea that a new one will match the best of the old in terms of tone (resonance, dry airiness, call it what you wish) is rubbish IMHO. But there are plenty of 50's Lesters that don't sound any better than a regular good new one. Good luck trying to convince the owners to admit that.
     
    DHBucker, 6077dino, IGRocker and 6 others like this.
  11. ajory72

    ajory72 Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,114
    Likes Received:
    439
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2010
    I was watching a youtube comparison vid last week where they compared a 58 reissue they had with real 58 burst.

    They play the burst first and it sounds lively - resonant with good sustain [the qualities the OP is speaking of I imagine] but when the 58 reissues turn comes I can hear delay + a range of effects to try and make it tonally sound as good.. but you can tell they are over compensating to sell their point of view.
    FWIW I have an 82 Tokia Strat [MIJ], unplugged it sounds absolutely amazing - almost acoustic its that loud, plugged in, not so great :( But I imagined I was SRV/Hendrix when really its not all that and I certainly am not :)
     
    jcsk8 likes this.
  12. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

    Messages:
    68,747
    Likes Received:
    161,424
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    And we all know that's just crazy-talk.
     
  13. Frogfur

    Frogfur Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,759
    Likes Received:
    16,162
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    It would be nice to hear a comparison between a genuine 58-59, and say a 13 or the likes.
    But all you have to do is listen to Super Session. Bloomfield probably is the best example of what a L.P. and fender amp can acomplish that you can hear without distortion added to the mix.
     
    blues360 and bulletproof like this.
  14. scovell001

    scovell001 Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    76
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2015
    The 'very best' video out there just now is the Bernie Marsden 'historic select' guitarist magazine video (search youtube).

    The modern les pauls do what they do well & its going good, then he plugs the Beast in & its all over !
     
    mrfett, Gmal, 1all's Pub and 3 others like this.
  15. Petergrifindor

    Petergrifindor Senior Member

    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    117
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2015
    It´s all in the mind.

    If you take 9 good reissues and one good vintage and played all them blindly, you wouldn´t be able to know which is the old one.

    Every guitar is diferent from the rest, and the old ones doesn´t sound better.
     
  16. Ph03n1x

    Ph03n1x Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,453
    Likes Received:
    836
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    I have played a few vintage strats and they definitely vary big time. I have only played a couple of 50s LPs and they were specials. They also varied but not as much as the strats did. The old LPs were definitely nicer than the newer ones I have tried.
     
  17. Guitar Rod

    Guitar Rod Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,324
    Likes Received:
    505
    Joined:
    May 29, 2016
    It was compared to 2 random reissues that they had available, and even they sounded quite different from each other. The Beast is a special guitar. Bernie himself said in the video that he has had several vintage LPs and they all got sold off because they weren't in the same league as the Beast. He also said that when he first plugged it in and played it, it sounded like it was at volume 9 when his other LP sounded like it was on 6. So I'm guessing part of it's magic is slightly hotter PAFs that fit his style.

    Reissues are generally well built, but maybe get let down by slightly generic pickups. Put some Rolphs in a reissue and I think you'd be bloody close to many of the vintage bursts. I'm also of the opinion that many of the "special" famous bursts benefited more from the player's fingers than the other way around. When Joe Walsh sold Jimmy Page one of his bursts, he said he kept the better one back for himself.
     
    1all's Pub and cybermgk like this.
  18. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,743
    Likes Received:
    5,888
    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    This post is pretty much 100% heresay, with the last bit completely contradicting yourself.
    Have you played every burst??
    How many times have you done the test you detail??
     
    Stuff and Lousyatit like this.
  19. Lousyatit

    Lousyatit Senior Member

    Messages:
    545
    Likes Received:
    300
    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    If it was only that easy.
     
    Stuff and Cookie-boy like this.
  20. Who

    Who are you? Who who who who.... Premium Member

    Messages:
    11,832
    Likes Received:
    17,107
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    Funny thing about that....Bloomfield was using a guitar that was less than 10 years old.

    "Beano" was newer than a 2010 Les Paul is right now.

    Most of the music that was recorded that made 50s Les Paul's ”iconic" was recorded on guitars that were less than 15 years old.


    With that in mind, you'd think that guitars built since 2000 would be the "great" ones, and 50s guitars would be considered worn-out old hags.


    Sort of shows that the love of 50s guitars is more nostalgia for the 60s and 70s music than it is a love of the qualities of the tool itself.






    ;)
     

Share This Page